National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA)

Important Update:

Please note that the Grassroots Guide has not yet been updated to reflect changes made by the 2018 Farm Bill, which was passed and signed into law in December 2018. We are in the process of updating the Guide and expect to publish an updated version in the spring of 2019. In the meantime, please use this guide for basic information about programs and important resources and links for more information, but check with USDA for any relevant program changes made by the 2018 Farm Bill. Also, check out our blog series covering highlights from the new farm bill. 

Providing free technical information and guidance to producers and information providers on a wide range of sustainable agriculture topics

Learning to farm is hard enough, but learning to farm sustainably is often very knowledge intensive and requires more hands-on management than more conventional systems. Thankfully, there is an online resource available to farmers that provides access to free information and research on a range of sustainable agriculture topics — everything from how to manage an organic orchard to how to manage risk on a diversified farming operation. For almost 30 years, ATTRA has been providing farmers, ranchers and others involved in sustainable agriculture with valuable information and resources that address key challenges they are facing on their farms.

Learn More About ATTRA!

Program Basics

ATTRA, also known as the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology. ATTRA provides information and technical assistance to those engaged in or serving commercial agriculture, such as farmers, ranchers, extension agents, farm organizations and farm-based businesses and others involved in sustainable agriculture in the U.S. ATTRA is a valuable complement to the SARE program and other USDA research programs through its provision of readily accessible sustainable and organic farming information to farmers and ranchers across the nation.

ATTRA offers a wide variety of information on sustainable agriculture, from horticultural and agronomic crops to livestock and farming systems. ATTRA’s services seek to help U.S. farmers increase profitability and provide more healthful food for consumers while becoming better stewards of the natural resources and environment.

Clients can call in requests on a toll-free telephone line, use the ATTRA website that features regular updates, and learn about workshops featuring technical presentations by staff.

ATTRA’s agriculture program specialists respond to requests from callers on how to:

  • Improve farm income with a diversity of crops and livestock
  • Produce alternative crops and livestock
  • Reduce dependence on off-farm inputs
  • Improve soil fertility and water quality
  • Institute sustainable and organic farming practices
  • Save or produce energy
  • Assess new marketing methods
  • Incorporate value-added products


ATTRA is free for anyone to access and use! Get started on the main website. To reach the ATTRA toll-free hotline, dial (800) 346-9140.

The Program in Action

ATTRA specializes in responding to questions about specific sustainable enterprises or practices. ATTRA agriculture program specialists will research the question, summarize findings in writing, and compile supporting literature as appropriate to accompany the report, which a caller receives in the mail. Publications based on frequently requested topics are also available.

ATTRA provides more than 300 topic-specific publications on its website, covering a wide variety of topics related to organic and sustainable agriculture, including:

  • Agriculture, Climate Change and Carbon Sequestration
  • Biointensive Integrated Pest Management
  • Finding Land to Farm: Six Ways to Secure Farmland
  • Manures for Organic Crop Production
  • Overview of Cover Crops and Green Manures
  • Agroforestry: An Overview
  • Aquaponics – Integration of Hyrdoponics with Aquaculture
  • Compost Heated Greenhouses
  • Season Extension Techniques for Market Gardners
  • Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees
  • Crop Insurance Options for Specialty, Diversified, and Organic Farmers
  • Postharvest Handling of Fruits and Vegetables.

Most of these publications are available for free download on the ATTRA website. A small fee is charged for some publications, though the fee can be waived in the case of financial hardship by contacting ATTRA staff.

ATTRA also provides a free weekly electronic newsletter on national events and advances in sustainable agriculture. The newsletter may be subscribed to at no charge via the ATTRA website.

How to Apply and Program Resources

All of ATTRA’s publications and multimedia information (including webinar and radio broadcasts) are available for free download on the NCAT website.

To reach the ATTRA toll-free hotline, dial (800) 346-9140.

Read about the latest news about ATTRA on our blog!

Program History, Funding, and Farm Bill Changes

ATTRA was first created by the 1985 Farm Bill and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT).  The most recent farm bill does make any changes to the ATTRA program.

Funding is provided for ATTRA through USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service as part of the annual agriculture appropriations bill. This funding supports the informational and educational work of more than 30 staff assigned to the ATTRA program. The program is managed by the nonprofit National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), which is headquartered in Butte, Montana and has regional offices in Arkansas, California, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Texas and Mississippi.

Currently, ATTRA is authorized to receive $5 million per year, although the program has historically not received more than $2.8 million in appropriations in any given year.  ATTRA funding was zeroed out in the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations process, and the program was temporarily in trouble.  However, NSAC and its allies across the country fought hard to restore funding for this vital resource for sustainable farmers, and were successful in re-establishing the program with $2.25 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2012.

ATTRA Program Funding 

Fiscal Year Total (in millions)
2013 $2.1
2014 $2.25
2015 $2.5
2016 $2.5
2017 $2.75

For the most current information on program funding levels, please see NSAC’s Annual Appropriations Chart.

Authorizing Language

Section 7404 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 amends Subsection 450(b) of the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act of 196, to be codified at 7 U.S.C. Section 450i(b) and a note to 7 U.S.C. Section 450i.

Last updated in October 2016.